Background: Employees of a multi-site institution for children and adolescents started to wear moulded hearing protectors (MHPs) during working hours, as they were suffering from a high level of noise exposure. It was agreed with the institutional physician and the German Institution for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in the Health and Welfare Services (BGW) that this presented an opportunity to perform a scientific study to investigate potential beneficial effects on risk of burnout and subjective noise exposure at work when child care workers wear MHPs. Methods: This was an intervention study which compared the initial values with those after a follow-up of 12 months. All teaching child care workers employed by the multi-site institution were offered the opportunity to take part. Forty-five (45) employees in 16 institutions participated. The subjects were provided with personally adapted MHPs and documented the periods of wear in a diary. At the start and end of the intervention, the subjects had to answer a questionnaire related to subjective noise exposure and burnout risk. In parallel, employees were surveyed who had not taken part in the intervention. Results: Thirty-three (33) subjects took part in the follow-up after 12 months (follow-up rate 73 %). The median period of wear of MHPs was 34.6 h. During the period of observation, the mean subjective noise exposure increased by 2.7 %, and mean burnout risk by 2.5 scale points (baseline: 55.2, follow-up 57.7). Neither difference was statistically significant. 67 % of the participants reported that they were still capable of fulfilling their teaching duties when wearing the MHPs. In the reference group without the intervention, the increase in burnout risk was 3.9 points, which was even less favourable (baseline: 50.6, follow-up: 54.5). Conclusions: Within the working environment of the child care workers, wearing MHPs did not reduce subjective noise exposure or burnout risk; the satisfaction of the study subjects with wearing MHPs decreased over time. There were however signs that the level of stress increased over time and that this might have been alleviated in the intervention group by wearing MHPs.
Koch, P., Stranzinger, J., Kersten, J. F., & Nienhaus, A. (2016). Use of moulded hearing protectors by child care workers - an interventional pilot study. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, 11(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12995-016-0138-1